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Strategic success: Common traits among top practices

Sept. 30, 2014
There is no "one-size-fits-all" or "easy-to-implement" secret to success for dental practices. However, I do see commonalities in the strategies of top practices.

by David Lucht

There is no "one-size-fits-all" or "easy-to-implement" secret to success for dental practices. However, I do see commonalities in the strategies of top practices. These practices have 15% to 20% annual growth and maintain above average profitability. Here are their common traits, along with strategies I've seen that have worked well for my dental practice customers.

Positive attitude: I have never met a successful practice owner who views the world with an "I can't get that done" attitude. Successful practice owners try new things, celebrate what works, and throw out what doesn't.

Team-oriented: As a credit person, when I walk into a dental practice and hear the owner praise the skills and the work of the staff, I don't even need to look at the numbers to know that this practice is operating at a high level. Good leaders invest in and train their teams, and those teams respond by going the extra mile for the customer.

Embracing the business side of the practice: Owners who work to learn the business of their practices are successful. If an owner understands margins, learns about inventory control, and analyzes what marketing endeavors bring in clients, the practice has a big advantage. Owners who simply hand the business affairs of the practice off to other employees to "figure out" are less successful.

Paperless and visual: This is another strategy of high-quality practices. Staff members carry iPads. All information is entered into a paperless system. Treatment plans are presented visually, such as on wide-screen monitors in exam rooms, making acceptance rates high.

Other qualities: Top practices spend time educating their patients. Staff training is intense. Protocols are enforced, and everyone knows why these protocols benefit the patient. Exams are quick and efficient. They invest in the latest equipment, but only after being confident that it will benefit the patient and generate revenue. Owners understand their markets. They tailor every aspect of their practices to deliver the highest standard of care.

In conclusion, if you approach your business with a positive mindset, are progressive in the way you run your practice, and take a genuine interest in the operation, then you should have the right combination to ensure success.

David Lucht joined Live Oak Bank in May 2007 as a founding member. He was formerly the chief credit officer, executive vice president, and director for First Merit Bank out of Akron, Ohio. There he led the turnaround in credit culture and performance for the $10.5 billion bank.

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